|Publication number||US4250629 A|
|Application number||US 06/013,059|
|Publication date||Feb 17, 1981|
|Filing date||Feb 21, 1979|
|Priority date||Feb 21, 1979|
|Also published as||CA1122404A, CA1122404A1|
|Publication number||013059, 06013059, US 4250629 A, US 4250629A, US-A-4250629, US4250629 A, US4250629A|
|Inventors||Donald C. Lewis|
|Original Assignee||Lewis Donald C|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (9), Referenced by (51), Classifications (8), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates to a process for kiln drying wood. In known processes, air is circulated through the stacked wood in a kiln chamber. The temperature and humidity of the air in the kiln are controlled in accordance with established kiln schedules which have been developed for various sizes, conditions and types of wood. A typical schedule, taken from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Handbook #133, DRY KILN OPERATOR'S MANUAL, for Eastern White Pine is shown below:
______________________________________Moisture content Dry Bulb Air Wet Bulb Airof wood at start Temperature Temperatureof step (in %) (in ° F.) (in ° F.)______________________________________Above 60% 130 11560 130 11050 130 10540 130 10035 130 9530 140 10525 150 11520 160 12515 160 can vary______________________________________
Schedules such as the one shown above when closely followed can result in good quality wood being dried in a reasonably fast time with little or no damage. The schedule shown above would take about one week to complete. The temperature is normally expressed in °F. or °C. and the moisture content of the air is usually expressed in °F. or °C. on a wet bulb thermometer. The moisture content may also be expressed in some other manner, such as relative humidity, dewpoint, moisture ratio, etc.
There are several known processes for controlling the temperature and humidity of the air in the kiln. This invention relates to the dehumidification process. The prior art dehumidification systems do not have the ability to operate over a wide range of temperature as shown in the typical schedule above. This invention allows a dehumidification system to operate at any temperature between aproximately 70° F. dry bulb and 160° F. dry bulb. The prior art dehumidifiers have been generally limited to a maximum operating temperature of approximately 120° F. If the temperature is limited to below 120° F., the drying process is much slower, the possibility of damage from mold and stain increases, and kiln operators are required to ignore the established kiln schedules. This invention allows the existing kiln schedules to be used with only minor modifications. It also allows a faster drying time because of the higher temperatures. Problems related to mold are also reduced.
A dehumidification system uses a conventional refrigeration cycle. In the known systems, air is drawn from the kiln chamber and it passes over a cooling coil. It is cooled and dehumidified and then the air passes over a heating coil where it is reheated. A fan is used to draw the air over these coils and then the air is returned to the kiln, heated and with the moisture removed. The cooling coil is an evaporator of a conventional refrigeration cycle. The heating coil is the condenser of a conventional refrigeration cycle and in the refrigeration system there is also a compressor.
In the prior art, the cooling coil, condenser coil and compressor are selected to operate within a certain range of temperatures. If the temperature increases beyond design selection range, the pressures that the compressor is required to maintain in the evaporator and in the condenser also increase and the resulting load would be beyond the design range for the compressor motor. Also, as the temperature of the air going across the cooling coil increases, the refrigerant leaving the cooling coil also increases in temperature. Since the refrigerant cools the compressor in most dehumidification systems, the warmer refrigerant may be unable to provide the cooling the compressor motor requires.
This invention has for its purpose to provide for operating over a wide range of temperatures, to increase the rate of drying thereby to reduce damage from mold and stain, to allow existing kiln schedules to be used with only minor modification and to vary the amount of air passing over the cooling unit of the dehumidifier in such a way as to prevent the compressor from being overloaded and from being overheated.
A kiln for drying lumber comprising means defining an enclosed chamber for receiving a stack of lumber with a space above the stack and at the ends, a dehumidifier in the chamber containing an evaporator, said dehumidifier defining a flow path through the evaporator and a bypass passage around the evaporator, means for inducing air flow into the flow path of the dehumidifier for dehumidifying air entering the dehumidifier and discharging dry air therefrom, means for effecting a circulation of air within the chamber in a direction such that dry air from the dehumidifier is conducted across the top of the stack to the far end and from thence reversely through the stack to the one end and wherein moisture-laden air from the stack is induced into the flow path of the dehumidifier and means for decreasing the air flow over the evaporator and correspondingly increasing the flow through the bypass passage. There is a thermostat positioned to sense the temperature of the evaporator and means operable by the thermostat to effect actuation of the means for decreasing the flow of air over the evaporator and increasing the flow through the bypass passage. Optionally, the thermostat may be positioned to sense the temperature of the refrigerant flowing from the evaporator to the compressor. The means for decreasing the air flow over the evaporator may comprise a damper arranged to be closed when the temperature rises too high so as to bypass the air through the bypass passage or a damper in the bypass passage for increasing the flow through the bypass passage when the temperature rises too high. Alternatively, the aforesaid means may comprise a primary damper positioned in the flow path of the air to the evaporator and a secondary damper in the bypass passage through which air is diverted from the evaporator when the primary damper is closed. When there are primary and secondary dampers, the means for effecting the decrease in air flow over the evaporator and the corresponding increase in the flow through the bypass passage operates simultaneously to close the primary damper and open the bypass damper.
A baffle coextensive with the top of the stack defines in conjunction with the top of the chamber a flow path. The dehumidifier is spaced from the end of the stack adjacent thereto sufficiently so that a portion of the air leaving the stack at the one end is recirculated without passing through the dehumidifier. The means for effecting circulation of air in the chamber comprises a fan positioned at the top of the chamber at the entrance to the flow path at the one end and sensors positioned in the flow path of the air across the stack, said sensors operating in response to the temperature and moisture content of the air in the flow path, on the one hand, when there is insufficient moisture, to stop the dehumidifier and, on the other hand, when there is more than enough moisture to start the dehumidifier and when the temperature is excessive, to start an exhaust fan which exhausts air from the chamber and when the temperature is deficient, to stop the exhaust fan and start the supplemental heater in the dehumidifier.
There is a tray for collecting the condensate from the evaporator and means for supplying a portion of it to sensors, and a portion to an evaporator-type humidifier for restoring moisture to the stack after a drying cycle to raise the moisture content to a predetermined level.
The invention will now be described in greater detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is an elevation partly in section showing the kiln within which the lumber to be conditioned is stacked, a dehumidifier at one end of the chamber and the circulation set up within the chamber; and
FIG. 2 diagrammatically illustrates an evaporator-type humidifier for restoring a predetermined amount of moisture following a drying cycle.
Referring to the drawings, the kiln comprises an enclosure 10 of suitable size to receive a stack of lumber 12 for conditioning with a space at one end between that and the adjacent end of the stack of lumber for receiving a dehumidifying unit 14.
The enclosure 10 as herein illustrated is of substantially rectangular, horizontal and vertical section and is provided near the top with a horizontally-disposed baffle 16 which defines with the underside of the top a flow passage across the top of the stack 12. At the end of the baffle adjacent the dehumidifying unit there is a vertical extension 18 containing an opening 20 within which is mounted a circulating fan or fans 22 for inducing air flow from the dehumidifying unit through the opening 20 into the passage above the baffle and forcing it to flow across the top of the baffle to the end of the chamber remote from the dehumidifying unit and from thence back to the one end of the chamber through the stack to the one end of the chamber within which the dehumidifying unit is situated and where a part of this air returned through the stack enters the dehumidifying unit and a part is returned to the flow path without passing through the dehumidifying unit. The air passing through the dehumidifying unit is dried, ejected from the top of the dehumidifying unit and, together with the untreated air, is recirculated by the fan 22. The circulation is depicted in FIG. 1 by the arrows shown thereon. A baffle 23 is positioned at the top of the chamber at the remote end to direct the air downwardly to the end of the stack. An exhaust fan 49 is provided in one wall of the chamber at the end within which the dehumidifier is located.
The dehumidifying unit is, for the most part, of conventional construction comprising a cooling coil or evaporator 24, a heating coil or condenser 26, a compressor 28 which withdraws refrigerant from the evaporator and supplies it to the condenser, and an expansion valve 30 connecting the condenser to the evaporator. A drain pan 32 supported below the evaporator provides for draining water from the condenser. Above the condenser, there is a blower 34 for drawing air into the dehumidifying unit at the base and discharging it from the top in line with the fan 22 which, in conjunction with the fan 22, provides for the circulation of the air. Above the blower 34, there is a supplemental heating coil 36 for reheating the dried air when necessary.
As herein illustrated, the dehumidifier unit defines a flow passage 38 through the evaporator and a bypass passage 40 around the evaporator. A primary damper 38a and a bypass damper 40a are mounted, respectively, in the passages 38,40 and so controlled that when the primary damper 38a is open, the bypass damper 40a is closed and vice versa. A damper motor M is provided and connected to the dampers by suitable kinematic linkage to effect opening and closing of the primary and bypass dampers in response to the temperature of either the evaporator 24 or the temperature of the refrigerant flowing from the evaporator to the compressor. Control of the motor M is had by means of a thermostat T provided with a sensor bulb 42 arranged in the path of the flow of air through the evaporator or, alternatively, arranged in the pipe 44 extending from the evaporator to the compressor.
A control system is thus provided by means of which the amount of air passing over the evaporator coil can be varied as the temperature increases. A sensor 42 located in the air path immediately leaving the evaporator coil provides for closing the damper over the evaporator coil and opening the bypass damper to maintain a constant temperature leaving the evaporator coil of approximately 60° F. The dampers are modulated to maintain temperature of the air approximately constant. The evaporation coil is circulated so that the refrigerant leaving the evaporation coil is approximately the same as the air temperature. This provides refrigerant from the evaporation coil cool enough to cool the compressor motor and a constant pressure in the evaporator which prevents the compressor from being overloaded and overheated.
The controls that position the dampers can be proportioning, electric, pneumatic or electronic.
A controller 46 is provided for starting and stopping the compressor motor 28 and responds to sensor means 48 connected thereto by a line 50 which senses the condition of the air entering the passage above the stack which is comprised of dry air from the dehumidifying unit and the untreated air which bypasses the dehumidifying unit. The sensor means 48 comprises wet and dry bulb sensors. When the wet bulb indicates an excess of moisture in the air, it starts the dehumidifying cycle by starting the compressor motor. When the moisture is reduced to an acceptable level, the dehumidifying cycle is stopped by stopping the compressor motor. When the dry bulb sensor indicates an excess of temperature, it starts the exhaust fan 49. However, when the temperature decreases to an acceptable level, it stops the exhaust fan and starts the supplemental heater 36. A humidistat may be used in place of a wet bulb.
Optionally, the damper 40a may be omitted and the air flow controlled solely by the damper 38a. When so constructed, closing the damper 38a will divert the air through the bypass passage 40 so as to increase the flow through the bypass passage and simultaneously reduce or stop the flow through the flow passage 38. Alternately, the damper 38a may be omitted and the damper 40a in the bypass passage employed to control the flow, when open to promote an increased flow through the bypass passage to thus reduce flow through the flow path 38. In either instance, the damper or dampers may be automatically or manually operated.
In conjunction with the dehumidifying unit, there is provided a system to recover the water that is condensed from the air on the evaporator coil and using it to restore some moisture to the stack when conditions require it. This system is shown in FIG. 2 wherein a drainpipe 52 conducts water from the drain pan 32 of the dehumidifier into a condensate pump 54 which, in turn, pumps the condensate through a conductor 56 to a storage tank 58. Water from the storage tank is delivered by way of a conductor 60 and adjustable valve V1 to a trough 62 within which are situated a dry bulb and the wick of a wet bulb 64 and 66, respectively. A fan 68 maintains a circulation of air over the wick 66. In order to alleviate a too dry condition in the kiln, a conductor 70 connected to the bottom of the storage tank by way of a float valve 72 will supply water from the tank to an evaporator-type humidifier 74 located within the base of the dehumidifier through a float valve 72 and is heated there by an electric heater 76 whenever the humidity in the kiln is too low.
The system thus comprises circulating air through a stack of lumber so as to remove excess moisture therefrom, dehumidifying the moisture-laden air and recyling it. This provides certain advantages over the prior art in that it enables operating over wide ranges of temperature, increases the rate of drying, thereby reducing the damage from mold and stain, allows existing kiln schedules to be employed, and enables operating in such a way as to prevent the dehumidifying unit from being overloaded and/or overheated. Additionally, the system enables recovery of the water from the drying operation and using it in an evaporator-type humidifier to restore some of the moisture to the lumber following the drying operation to relieve stresses that are developed during the drying operation.
It should be understood that the present disclosure is for the purpose of illustration only and includes all modifications or improvements which fall within the scope of the appended claims.
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|U.S. Classification||34/380, 34/77|
|International Classification||F26B21/08, F26B21/02|
|Cooperative Classification||F26B21/086, F26B21/02|
|European Classification||F26B21/08C, F26B21/02|